Talking union

July 3, 1991

MELBOURNE — In another round of union action against draconian job cuts promised by the Kirner Labor government, members of the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association working in the state's school support centres struck for one day on June 27. At least $100 million will be cut from the already severely underfunded and understaffed state school system.

PERTH — Australian Railways Union suburban staff have reluctantly endorsed an in principle proposal from Westrail/Transperth that will introduce driver-only operated trains. Rail workers, worried that they would end up with no jobs, accepted the package, which includes increased pay rates and no immediate job losses. However, the agreement, which signs away for all time the ability to take effective industrial action, allows staffing levels to be reviewed in conjunction with the ARU in future.

SYDNEY — In a foretaste of what's in store for unorganised workers in the brave new world of enterprise bargaining, Willies Family Restaurant of Ballina, northern NSW, has sought the approval of the state industrial commission for an agreement under which its 10 kitchen and counter staff will give up holiday leave loadings and penalty rates and accept half pay when sick. In return, the workers are promised a 50% share of profits, distributed at the manager's direction.

On June 27, the NSW government began preparations to invoke essential services legislation against a four-day strike by 3500 members of the water and sewerage union. Water Board employees refusing to perform "essential" work could face fines of $1000 daily. After returning to work on July 1, the workers will maintain overtime bans in protest against plans to sack up to 2000 workers and replace them with contractors as part of an "efficiency review".

The NSW branches of the bank workers' union (ABEU), three insurance and finance industry staff associations, and the wool brokers' staff association recently amalgamated to form the banking section of the NSW branch of the Finance Sector Union.

Following a Coopers and Lybrand report recommending 3561 job cuts at Qantas, around 600 workers have already gone. Negotiations with unions have secured agreement to reduce redundancies by 250, but more than 2700 are still facing the axe by the end of September.

NSW cinema managers have informed employees of their intention to do away with the 17.5% holiday leave

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